Flash Flood Survival Preparedness: Do’s and Don’ts

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By Bryan Lynch •  6 min read

Natural disasters are the number one threat that most people should prepare for because they occur almost every year.

Flash Flood Preparedness Dos and Don’ts

Flooding affects millions of people a year along coastal regions and low-lying areas. To an extent, seasonal flooding can be prepared for because of our knowledge leading up to the event.  

Flooding and flash flooding do share similarities in their effects. But there is an important distinction between the two that makes flash flooding a more imminent threat, timing.

Flooding versus Flash Flooding

The following two definitions are from the National Weather Service.

Flood Definition

An overflow of water onto normally dry land. The inundation of a normally dry area caused by rising water in an existing waterway, such as a river, stream, or drainage ditch. Ponding of water at or near the point where rain fell. Flooding is a longer-term event than flash flooding, it may last days or weeks.

National Weather Service

Flash Flood Definition

Flash Flood

A flood caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through riverbeds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.

National Weather Service

Imminent threats of flash floods.

A person can be knocked down in just several inches of fast flowing water. Most vehicles can be swept away in one foot of water and larger vehicles such as trucks can be swept away in two feet of water. Water can be an incredibly powerful force that should not be underestimated. A few of the imminent threats caused by flash flooding include:

Flash Flooding in Urban Environments

When flash flooding occurs in urban areas there are several things you can do and should not do to better your chances of survival.

What To Do

What Not To Do

Flash Flooding in Wilderness Environments

When flash flooding occurs in the wilderness, there are several things that you can do and should not do to better your chances of survival.

What To Do

What Not To Do

Wrap Up

Underestimating the power of mother nature is a battle that is always lost. Whether you are in an urban setting or in the wilderness it is essential to know the signs of flash flooding and what to do as well as what not to do.

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.